BS Math to PhD Astrophysics, need MS Astrophysics or not?

In summary, the individual is completing an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and is interested in pursuing a PhD in Astrophysics. They are unsure of the specific area or topic they want to focus on, but plan to narrow it down before applying. They are considering bypassing a master's degree and applying directly for a PhD, but are unsure if they need more physics/astrophysics training. They also ask for advice on which courses to take in their final year to increase their chances of successful study in astrophysics. The conversation shifts to discussing the necessary courses and experiences for admissions to a PhD program, including grades, GRE scores, research experience, and letters of recommendation. The individual is advised to fill in any missing essential courses before applying and to
  • #1
umzung
21
0
I'm currently completing a undergraduate BS Mathematics degree and want to go for a PhD in Astrophysics.
I haven't decided on the precise area or topic yet, since there are so many fascinating areas of research, but I might have narrowed it down by the time I actually need to apply.

A tutor once told me to bypass the master's and go straight into PhD studies, but I think he was assuming I would be sticking to the same field as my undergraduate degree.

Do I need to transition with an MS in Astrophysics for more physics/astrophysics training, or should I apply directly for the PhD if I have already managed to choose a topic?
Which courses should I take in my graduating year to help my chances of successful study in astrophysics (I'm learning Python on the side)?

In my final undergraduate year, I must choose four from:

Complex Analysis,
Fluid Mechanics,
Deterministic & Stochastic Dynamics,
Optimisation,
Graphs and Networks,
Probability,
Statistics,
Quantum Theory,
and Electromagnetism.
 
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  • #2
How much physics have you studied already?

In the US, students entering a PhD program in physics (which includes the master's level coursework that is normally a separate degree in other countries) are generally expected to have completed at least these core physics courses above the introductory level: classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and thermodynamics + statistical mechanics. I would expect this to hold also for astrophysics PhD programs.

The situation may be different in other countries.
 
  • #3
@jtbell

I have only UK high-school physics plus whichever options I take in the final undergraduate year, most likely quantum theory, electromagnetism, and cosmology (theoretical & observational cosmology, and high energy processes). Classical mechanics will be covered in undergraduate mathematics.

Would it be too much to pick up the rest in the first-year of the PhD?
 
  • #4
I'd like to post a response with an analogy...

Kid: Dad, I met this girl and I want to get married.

Dad: Interesting. How long have you been dating this girl?

Kid: Well, we haven't really gone on a date yet. But I really like her. I had a class with her in high school though. I have a small opportunity to go on a couple of dates with her. Do you think I should?

Dad: What's her name?

Kid: I'm not really sure. I hope to have that figured out by the time I propose to her though.

Dad: I think you should learn her name first, then ask her out on more than just a few dates before you make any kind of long term commitment.More seriously I'm just trying to say that from my point of view it seems like committing to a PhD without having taken any advanced classes in physics yet might be getting ahead of yourself.
 
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  • #5
But this girl I just met is really hot and I know she's the one. Yes, I'm already dating a girl similar to her but the thing is, she's is a little too formal at times and not open to experimentation. I think I'm beginning to understand her ways really well, but I feel like we're in a bubble and what I want most is for her to show me the ways of the world and the universe at large.
 
  • #6
umzung said:
Would it be too much to pick up the rest in the first-year of the PhD?
You should fill in any missing (essential) courses before you try to enter a PhD program. Admissions to PhD programs is competitive. The criteria include (1) courses taken and grades (marks) received; (2) your score in the physics Graduate Record Exam (GRE); (3) previous research experience; (4) letters of recommendation. If you're lacking in one area, you need to have a very strong showing in the other areas in order to be competitive. The exact mix varies from one school to another.

Most schools have many more applications than they have spaces. You should ask yourself, "why should a grad school admit me, over a student who has completed an undergraduate physics degree and done well in it?"

Again, this is for the US system.
 

Related to BS Math to PhD Astrophysics, need MS Astrophysics or not?

What is the difference between a BS in Math and a PhD in Astrophysics?

The main difference between a BS in Math and a PhD in Astrophysics is the level of education and research involved. A BS in Math is an undergraduate degree that provides a broad foundation in mathematics, while a PhD in Astrophysics is a terminal degree that focuses specifically on advanced research in astrophysics.

Do I need a MS in Astrophysics if I want to pursue a PhD in Astrophysics?

It is not always necessary to have a MS in Astrophysics before pursuing a PhD in Astrophysics. Some PhD programs may allow students to enter directly from a BS program, while others may require a MS degree. It is important to research the specific requirements of the PhD program you are interested in.

What skills are required for a PhD in Astrophysics?

A PhD in Astrophysics requires a strong foundation in mathematics, physics, and computer science. Additionally, critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills are crucial for success in this field. Strong written and verbal communication skills are also important for presenting research findings and collaborating with other scientists.

What career opportunities are available with a PhD in Astrophysics?

There are a variety of career opportunities available for individuals with a PhD in Astrophysics. Some common career paths include research positions at universities, government agencies, and private research institutions. Other options include teaching at the university level, working in science communication, or pursuing a career in industry.

What are some examples of research topics in Astrophysics?

Research topics in Astrophysics can vary greatly and may include studying the properties and behavior of planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe as a whole. Some specific examples of research topics in Astrophysics may include dark matter and dark energy, gravitational waves, exoplanets, and the origins of the universe.

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